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Bob Bradley Should Become Aston Villa Manager if Kevin MacDonald Fails

 Bob Bradley Should Become Aston Villa Manager if Kevin MacDonald Fails

Aston Villa’s Kevin MacDonald has been given the next two matches to prove whether he’s capable of doing the job on a permanent basis. The first match is Thursday night in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna, which is followed by Sunday’s game against Everton.

While many Villa players and supporters are believed to be backing MacDonald for the permanent position, the proof will be in the pudding as MacDonald will be faced with the difficult task of turning around his Villa side after an emphatic six-nil loss versus Newcastle United this past Sunday.

Outside of Villa Park, we know that both Sven-Goran Eriksson and Bob Bradley have expressed an interest in becoming the next Aston Villa manager. The names of Martin Jol and Ronald Koeman have also been mentioned. But Randy Lerner runs a tight ship at Aston Villa and there have been no leaks to the press regarding which managers are being seriously considered. But, we do know that based on how Villa does in these next two games will dictate whether MacDonald will be at the helm or not.

The question of whether Bob Bradley is ready for a Premier League management position is an intriguing one. If he was ever given the chance, Aston Villa would be the ideal opportunity. The team already has a few American players (Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj). Plus, the club is owned by Lerner, an American. So if Bradley stepped into the position, the anti-Americanism that was felt at Old Trafford and Anfield, would not be a factor.

In terms of man management, player development and handling the press, Bradley would take time to adapt but he would get high marks in all three of those areas. He has the experience coaching at the level of Major League Soccer and on the international stage that would enable him to excel there.

The only weakness I see in Bradley is tactical. With the United States men’s national team, his tactics have been far too negative in my opinion. He’s a coach that would often play a 4-5-1 instead of being more adventurous with a 4-3-3. But perhaps this was more a decision based on playing to the team’s best interests than his tactical preference? It’s difficult to say, but this is the one question mark I have about Bradley. And it’s a big one.

That said, I believe if ever there was an opportunity for an American coach to manage in the Premier League for the perfect club, Bob Bradley for Aston Villa is it. I’m confident that he would be able to walk into the club and make some subtle changes that would have a positive impact on Villa. Whether he would have what it takes to improve Villa in the league on a consistent basis is unproven, but that’s a risk that owners need to make at times. Brits who have had much less experience in management have been thrust into key management positions in the past, so Bradley would be a safer bet than those. Whoever takes the permanent position at Villa will be stepping into big boots vacated by Martin O’Neill. It’s a club that has a lot of potential and is underperforming to its abilities.

If MacDonald fails to achieve two wins in the next two games, I believe Bradley should be given a chance to manage Aston Villa. Lerner has to do what’s best for Villa, but if MacDonald can’t meet expectations, I see no reason why Bradley could not do any worse than Sven.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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49 Responses to Bob Bradley Should Become Aston Villa Manager if Kevin MacDonald Fails

  1. I think your opinion is based on wanting an American manager in the Premier League and not one that is best for the club. If the stand in Manager fails, Villa could look at someone like Klinsman or Koeman, managers that have not only played at the top level but managed at the top level. Both would also play a better style of football than Bradley would play.
    Koeman spent most of his life playing at Barca and then managing them, what makes you think that Bradley is better for the job than he would be?

    • Jay says:

      I don’t understand (and this isn’t a jab at you, I just really don’t understand) why Klinsmann’s name keeps coming up when there is a coaching vacancy in Europe.

      It seems pretty clear after the German National team and Bayern München that he is happy living in LA, and doesn’t really want to take a job in Europe.

      As for Bradley, I don’t really care.

      • FenwayHotspur says:

        And especially because it’d widely known that if MLS stops the chicanery with the USMNT calling players up, Klinsmann still wants the national job.

    • u Reap what u Sow says:

      americans are constantly trying to stress some sort of importance to the english game as its the best in the world and they naturally assume they are the best at everything and are finding it hard to take, so now they are angling towards a second rate manager getting the villa job to get their foot in the door like the hundreds of glory hunters on here trying to justify themselves …no wonder the mls is inferior ..support your local team u plastic supportersthen maybe mls will grow theres plenty of u to make this happen

  2. Scott Alexander says:

    I don’t see any problem with Bradley becoming the manager of Villa but I’d think that bringing him in as heir apparent/assistant manager might make more sense. Let him ease into the role, learn English football, and avoid the undue pressure of making every match a referendum on his quality. Even while he was technically an assistant, he could be taking over but throwing him into the premiership with no experience managing a club football outside of the states seems counter-productive to both Villa’s and Bradley’s interests.

  3. IanCransonsKnees says:

    I’d like to see them take the same route as Everton and go for someone like Sean o Driscoll, British managers aren’t given the opportunity to build a side and prove themselves anymore.

  4. Simon Burke says:

    I cant say I see Bradley as being best for Villa. I don’ think Bradley has ever had to buy and sell players. I don’t think having 3 Americans on the squad and an American owner he has possibly never met are enough of a justification to appoint him.
    His knowledge of English football is ?
    His knowledge of European football is ?
    His skill in the transfer market is ?

    All those questions need answering to determine his strengths and weaknesses. His history in MLS was checkered. He won nothing. He is also not the most popular national team coach. I see nothing other than the fact the chairman is American that people have even discussed Bradley. Roy Keane is Irish but it didn’t mean he got on well or had a good working relationship with Niall Quinn.

    Not sure who I’d appoint but I am glad to see Kevin MacDonald being given a chance.

  5. SKMDC says:

    Whether Bradley would be the best fit for Villa, I don’t know. There are certainly managers out there with more European Football experience. However, I think the article is absolutely right that Villa is a perfect fit for Bradley. I also think this is the perfect time for Bradley to make that move. Casual sports fans in America actually know his name right now because of the World Cup run. If he becomes the first American coach in the Premiership then that’s a big ESPN story for at least one cycle. (Much moreso than if Bruce Arena went to West Ham or somewhere.) More than that it gives the casual sports fan who’s waiting on the noon College Football game a definite reason to tune into a Villa game… It would be just one more tiny step ahead for Soccer in the US.

  6. Jared says:

    Tactically he’s terrible. I’m not sure which US games you watched in the past year and a half but the US started in a 4-4-2 pretty much since the Confed Cup which has been proven to be outdated. He would then switch to a 4-3-3/4-5-1 at the half in the World Cup. In the World Cup he was repeatedly forced to waste subs by the start of the second half.

    He can’t handle the English media. His typical non answer stuff just wouldn’t work. They would tear him to pieces.

    Bradley has a better chance of getting Villa relegated than he does of succeeding.

  7. Moz says:

    I think it’s first time i’ve been on this site. But judging by this article and the title of this website, it looks like you talk rubbish.
    Nither Bob Bradley or Kevin McDonald are the right person to manage Villa.
    Also what is it with lot always calling this league “EPL” making it sound like one of your baseball leagues where in America they have to appreviate every league. This isn’t America and there’s no such thing as the “EPL”, it’s the Premier League.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Moz, the Premier League is known as the “EPL” in most countries around the world outside the UK to differentiate from all of the other Premier League’s such as the IPL (Indian Premier League), SPL (Scottish Premier League), etc. Even some journalists in the UK refer to it as the EPL too.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Duke says:

      And actually, Moz, this IS America. This a site for Americans who follow the EPL, managed by an ex-pat living in Florida. We come here to have intelligent discussion about “soccer,” because there aren’t a lot of places to get that over here.

      We already have plenty of condescending, anti-American Brits here, so feel free to surf somewhere else if you don’t like it here.

      If you’d like to contribute something to the discussion, on the other hand, please do so.

      • Sir Guy says:

        I basically agree with your post, so am not being argumentative, but the site isn’t just for Americans. It’s for anyone who wants to read the articles and post a comment no matter where they live.

        I personally enjoy the commentary from those who live elsewhere. You get a feel for the passion the game instills around the world. As for our Brit posters, I really enjoy their commentary because it comes from direct experience as most of ours does not. That doesn’t necessarily make them “right”, mind. ;-)

        Yes, every now and then we get some fool who gets his shorts on fire over “soccer” or some other such nonsense, but I find most of our English contributers’ contributions to be both interesting and enlightening…….especially when I agree with them. :-)

    • Sir Guy says:

      So, Moz, would you rather we call it the “Barclay’s Premier League” as it is continually referred to even on their own site? I would think that EPL, which we all know stands for “English Premier League”, would be far preferable.

      If the site and the posts bother you, don’t come back. We have plenty of good English posters here, whose quality you don’t seem up to.

  8. Barry Bulsara says:

    He would be a terrible appointment. We dont want a useless yank managing our club.

  9. tommy w says:

    @ Poker Rakeback

    Klinsman is the equivalent of the German Maradona. He came in to the national team while they were hosting the World Cup, and did well to motivate his team deep into the tournament. Before that he had 0 managerial experience. His “all out attack” style of football got him sacked quicker than you can say tooooor die Bayern. If anything Juergen is the tactically naive coach.

    @Jared
    The 4-4-2 is the formation he has found the most success with recently. Previously Bradley played a 4-1-2-1-2. He is not tactically naive, if anything he is tactically flexible, and is something of a tinker-man. At the world cup, yes, he did mess up the substitutions royally, and will be a blemish on his record, however it doesn’t take away from the fact that he has gotten mediocre talent very far by playing basic smart “defense first” football.

    @Simon Burke
    His knowledge of English football is ?
    His knowledge of European football is ?

    Firstly these two ^ foreign managers come into the Premiership and do well on a regular basis. In the USA we are not so completely separated from what goes on in Europe and England, it’s on TV all the time. Bob is a knowledgeable guy, I’m sure he knows quite a bit about the English game.

    His skill in the transfer market is ?

    Yes, this must be tested. The MLS has some of the whackiest transfer shenanigens, I don’t know where to start. Honestly though, with Lerner’s checkbook being tighter than a blue whale’s blow-hole, I don’t think he’d even get to experiment in his first season. He’d probably sign his son from Gladbach, but I digress.

    He won nothing? He did the double in 1998, winning the domestic title, and cup, and then winning the US cup again in 2000, and also turned around the massively underachieving Metrostars (now the Red Bulls) to another US cup final. The MLS was/is a very even league, with no stand out teams, so to win even one title is a massive ask when you consider the playoff format at the end of the season.

    Bob Bradley has always done well with the sub-par talent he has. Basically, he’s been driving a Ford Taurus for his entire career and is getting respectable results, give him an Aston (Villa) Martin, and I think people would be shocked at what he could achieve.

    • Simon Burke says:

      My sincerest apologies, I did not realise he did the double in 98. Completely missed that.

      I do remember him being sacked before he got the National team gig though but several good managers have been sacked.

      The transfer market is key for me, knowledge of players in the league is pretty crucial too. How much EPL does he watch? I don’t know. I suspect he’s watching more now that say last year. By the time he gets there (if he gets there) he wont have to do any transfer work till January at the earliest but that will be eventually what makes or breaks any manager so I’d be keen to get someone who knows the ins and outs of it.

  10. The Gentleman Masher says:

    Good post. Two good points you brought up:

    A) His tactics – were his tactics based on talent available? Or were they based on his own proclivities? We’d only know when he had the attacking talent of Villa at his disposal.

    B) Inexperienced Brits/Former League players have often been given the chance at management – Ince, Southgate, Shearer, Zola, Di Matteo, Martinez, etc. have all been given the reigns for some period of time in the EPL…granted, none have done much…but what in their background, other than playing, said they would do well? Why would a somewhat proven manager be greeted with more derision or pessimism?

    I do think Bradley is riskier than Sven or Jol, obviously, but you also don’t know what the reward could be with him…and most people, by now, know what you’re getting with the other 2 in the EPL. Sven was fired for getting beat as badly by Villa as Villa got beat by Newcastle last weekend…and Jol was fired because his team couldn’t stop giving up set-piece goals after the 85th minute with the game on the line…

    • Dave C says:

      Regarding point 2 – just because other clubs made the mistake of giving jobs to unproven guys like Ince, Zola, Southgate etc (who all proved to be mistakes), doesn’t mean Villa should go giving a job to Bradley (who is equally unproven at many key parts of the game, and doesn’t have the mitigating attraction of having some charismatic pulling power).

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I take issue with the notion that these unproven former players were all mistakes who didn’t do anything. Di Matteo got MK Dons to the playoff and got promotion to premiership with WBA. Martinez got Swansea to League One (for the I believe for the first time ever) and as much as Wigan are subject to terrible scores, they put up some impressive victories as well. The much maligned Zola did keep a West Ham in 9th his first year. This despite virtually no purchases and inferior talent, only being allowed to sell players to keep money flowing within the bankrupt Icelandic concern. And while I have no reason to think that Shearer would make a particularly good manager, 8 games is hardly significant amount of time to base on.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Scott, you’re correct in saying that Roberto Martinez’s first management job was at Swansea where he took the side into the Championship. He did a tremendous job and deserves a ton of credit. But the Swans have been in that division before, but not in a very very long time.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

        • Dave C says:

          Scott,
          You’re right – I was perhaps too harsh on each of those managers. But perhaps my argument stands better in a slightly modified form:
          “Just because managers x/y/z have been given a job in the EPL (to varying degrees of moderate success) doesn’t mean there is anything to suggest that Bradley should be given the job.”

          • Scott Alexander says:

            I’d agree with that. Although, as I stated before I don’t have any problem with him taking the job, I just think that it would be prudent for him to serve as a assistant at Villa first, or at least somewhere in Europe, or to demonstrate some success with a lesser profile English side first.

      • IanCransonsKnees says:

        Again good reason why someone like Sean o Driscoll deserves a chance. He’s served an apprenticeship at Bournemouth and Doncaster and the football played at the Keepmoat Stadium is lauded by many pundits in the UK.

        Not sure if you get the chance to see Championship football in the States but Doncaster are worth a watch.

        • TGov says:

          “Not sure if you get the chance to see Championship football in the States but Doncaster are worth a watch.”

          We get about 1-2 games every week or two. Not nearly enough IMO.

  11. Dave C says:

    I’m not sure what Bradley has ever achieved to deserve consideration.

    Yes, he was smart enough to make vital changes where necessary during the WC – but each one was just to mitigate stupid errors in his starting line-up.

    He stuck with the 4-4-2 even though it wasn’t getting results, and doesn’t appear to suit the available personnel.

    “He achieved well with moderate talent” – I don’t think he punched above his weight at all. He achieved exactly what you would expect from the USA at the WC – easy qualification, got through the group stage, and got knocked out in the last 16. I’m not saying this is a bad thing – getting a team to perform as well in real life as it should do on paper is an achievement in itself. But just don’t make it sound like he’s worked some kind of miracle.

  12. KickAss says:

    To all of you English snobs, I say lets give Bob Bradley full control of pathetic Villa immediately. We don not want Bob for USMNT any more so you can take him to pathetic Villa. Also it is EPL because here in America we say so understand!

  13. Brickthrower says:

    Villa needs to score goals in the Premier League to stay competitive. Bradley’s coaching style isn’t conducive to goal scoring. Villa will concede a fair share of goals with the team they are fielding.

    Bradley is good at getting his players in shape and working as a unit, but he doesn’t allow for style and creativity in his formations and tactics.

    Not a good coaching decision in my opinion.

  14. Valiant Villan says:

    Guys, I have to say this site is unbelievably biased towards Bradley. Listen… he has only had experienced in the MLS – with all due respect that is the equivalent of the third tier of English football. I really don’t think he willl be bought in as the main man with a CV like his, I’m sorry I just don’t see it. This isn’t soccer over here, its everything we love about our country crammed into 90 minutes. It’s our culture. You honestly cannot compare with the USA league.

    It says it all that instead of Lerner approaching Bradley – Bradley got his representatives to enquire – is that desperate or what??

    I can feel a resolution on the horizon and those that think Mr Bradley will be unveiled will be unpleasantly surprised.

    Villa till I die

    • Jason says:

      Obviously this site is biased towards Bradley, it’s a US site and many writers are american. I’m pretty confident that English publications such as the mirror and sky are biased towards English folks, in fact I know they are because I read and watch them. That’s a mute point.

      In regards to the MLS being comparable to the third tier of English football you have to be crazy. The Premiere League did a US tour and the MLS teams put up a good fight. Granted these are bench players for the most part, however I don’t believe we would say that Tottenham, Man U and Man City have reserve squads equivalent to the likes of Charlton and Swindon Town. These players either play in the premiere league with their respective squad or get loaned to a Championship squad like Danny Welback at Sunderland for ManU or Jonathan Obika playing for Crystal in the Championship on loan from Spurs.

      Please don’t just throw stuff out there ad hope something sticks.

      • Dave C says:

        I don’t think it’s outrageous to say MLS is on a par with the third tier of English football – after all, the MLS is where Chris Burchill, Danny Alsopp and Danny Dichio have all made a living (i.e. third-tier caliber players).

  15. joe shmo says:

    Have you guys finally got rid of your MLS/NASL groupie Kartik. I never knew a South Asian American can get sooo white-washed and sound soo anal on a podcast!

    Although I admire Bradley as our Nat’l team coach, you really have no valid reasoning for him becoming the next Villa manager do you? Brdaley never recruited or managed top level players when he was at the MLS “lego league” and is a great risk if Villa want to finish top 10. Having written that, unless Jol leaves Ajax or Svennis declines… Bradley will probably get the job due to him and Lerner both being American and then their effigies will both be burned at season’s end when Villa fight relegation.

    Anyone else get irritated by these overzealous N american announcers who comment on MLS games like a car salesman pushing product… you would think that our generation of announcers/commentators would have more integrity and sophistication than to act like hyper fools trying to excite the viewer on every kick of the ball.

    ** So Man City’s strategy is to buy every star player in the EPL and then either send em on loan to other leagues/div (ie Bellamy) or sell/loan them to weaker clubs who aren’t a threat to them (ie Newcastle and Santa Cruz).

  16. Jc says:

    I hope they give him a chance, because it means getting him off the national side. I’ll cross my fingers we’re that lucky.

  17. Duke says:

    I don’t think Villa is in a position to hire Bradley. They need to win some games desperately to get the fans and the press back on board with them. I’m not saying that Bradley can’t do that, what I’m saying is that hiring Bradley (or any Yank) and failing would cause an all-out revolt.

    Hiring from Europe, even if it results in failure, would not have such catastrophic effect in the court of public opinion.

    My 2 cents…

  18. JW says:

    “The only weakness I see in Bradley is tactical”

    … is like saying the only reason I’m not a pro footballer is because I lack the talent and athleticism.

  19. Nady says:

    I hope Villa takes Bradley so that we can hire Klinsmann once and for all.

  20. joe shmo says:

    You guys realy don’t get it. Other than an ageing Boca, we have absolutely NO good defenders as Gooch, Spector and DeMerrit suck. It was gonna be tough without Davies and Bradley did the best with what he had. Buddle is a country bumpkin lacking intelligence. Bradley’s only mistake was starting Clark against Ghana due to loyalty and gratitude for his help qualifying (similar to Capello starting Heskey in all those WC games). Are you saying Capello doesn’t know tactics… and what makes you think Klinsman will do any better without any defenders to choose from?

    • Jared says:

      Actually, we do get that Bradley was stuck with a subpar defense. That’s what makes his choice of Clark at all such a shocking one. It also wasn’t his only mistake as he routinely stuck with a 4-4-2 using Findley which didn’t work either as evidenced by his change to 4-5-1 at halftime virtually every game.

  21. Mike says:

    This is the tipping point for U.S. soccer, an opportunity they cannot blow. I think Bradley is going, and it will be an amicable departure. I’d love to see Gulati follow him right out the door, but that’s another conversation for another day.
    It would be great to see what Bradley could do with some talent, players who are instinctively footballers. Then I think it would be clear that the U.S. has a player development problem, and not necessarily a coaching problem.
    Back to my original premise that this is the tipping point; the U.S. needs to bring in a topflight European or South American manager, one who will refresh the philosophy and hopefully energize the Altidore types who think they are better than they really are.
    Don’t blow this chance U.S. Soccer, 2014 isn’t that far away.
    http://bit.ly/93NZRv

  22. KickAss says:

    I am annoyed by all of this English snobs, complaining that they do not want a Yank running an EPL team. Look I do not like Bradley either and I am hoping that he leaves so that we may hire Klinsmann immediately. All of you Engish snobs I tell you that Bradley was good enough to knock England to second place in the group in South Africa. England with respect to players was by far more talented that the USA but somehow Bradley managed to knock you off your high horse.

  23. Rob says:

    Addressing MacDonald’s current situation: Villa have been eliminated at home against Rapid Vienna in the Europa league. What does this mean for MacDonald?

    As an American, I’m rooting for Villa in these next two games because I want Bradley to stay the USA National Team coach. It would be a good option for Bradley to Europe, but not a good option for any club wishing to hire him as a skipper. If he seeks European experience, his best bet would be in a assistant position.

    That being said, I like Bob Bradley and I want him to stay.

    • The Gaffer says:

      And with Ajax qualifying for the Champions League group stage, Martin Jol is going nowhere anytime soon. The stars are aligned for Bradley to get the job, or at least have his best chance of getting it. The only other serious contender is Sven.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  24. Rob says:

    And (to continue the thought even moreso) Sven seems to be after Ukraine rather than concentrating his efforts toward Villa.

    I foresee some angry Villa fans in the near future.

  25. JayRockers! says:

    In addition to his league honors won (albeit 10+ years ago) Bradley won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007 and had a second place finish in both the Gold Cup and FIFA Confederations cup in 2009, all better finishes than England’s had recently-with decidely lesser talent. The USMNT topped the Hex for CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. And lest the Englanders reading this forget, his team topped Group C in the 2010 World Cup. Also, he was an assistant to Bruce Arena on two DC United MLS Cup winning teams. To say Bradley’s “never won anything” is patently false.

    The amount of assistants in England that never seem to grasp running a club astounds me. Is it because they are afraid to make the changes necessary while they are “caretaker” or because they are the assistant/caretaker the players don’t want to buy in 100%? Bradley went from being Bruce Arena’s assistant to winning an MLS Cup. Sure, it’s an easier thing to do than to win the Premier League, but no one would be asking Bradley to do that at Villa. Maybe top 8, top 4 if they ever have the cash to spring for players. At this point, the new manager’s objectives will be survival, top 10, UEFA qualification in that order for this season, and top 8 next. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Villa job will always max out at places 5-8 and a Cup run of one form or another if the squad is big enough. That’s a pretty achievable goal for pretty much any manager, American or not.

    Thx,

    Jay!

  26. John says:

    Everyone, ESPN is reporting that Bob Bradley has been replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann will be making his first appearance in Chicago for USA vs Poland game in October. Here is the link to this report:
    http://www.espn/soccer/breakingnews/bobbradley

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